Denying persistent rumors that he was gravely ill, Beres Hammond, the beloved Jamaican reggae singer, came to D.C. for two nights at the Howard Theatre on his “Never Ending” tour, in support of his 2018 recording with the same title.
Making it clear that he is still “The General,” Hammond’s latest album opens with the track “I’m Alive,” giving thanks to the Creator and declaring that he has not succumbed to any ailment.
Jumping around like a man half his age, the 63-year-old Hammond didn’t fully promote his latest recording because, as he knows so well from his more than four decades as a reggae artist, the audience came for the hits, of which he has scored many.
Hugh Beresford Hammond was born on Aug. 28, 1955, in Annotto Bay in the rural parish of Saint Mary, Jamaica. Known for his romantic, “lovers rock”-style songs and gritty tenor voice, Hammond has even snagged the Order of Jamaica in 2013 awarded by the Jamaican government in recognition of his “exceptional and dedicated contribution to the Jamaican music industry.”
The ninth of 10 children, Hammond was influenced early by soul singers Sam Cooke and Otis Redding and the ska stylings of the late Alton Ellis, John Holt and Dennis Brown. In the ’70s, he began to enter island-wide competitions and gained commercial attention with his 1985 hits “Groovy Little Thing” and “What One Dance Can Do.”
He simultaneously sought a solo career while recording with the group Zap Pow, releasing his debut solo album “Soul Reggae” in 1976. The ballads “One Step Ahead” and “I’m in Love” in the ’70s were both hits in Jamaica. He left Zap Pow in 1979 to pursue his solo career, and recorded two more albums “Let’s Make a Song” in 1980 and “Red Light” a year later.
Hammond’s career solidified in the 1990s with hit after hit such as “Tempted to Touch,” “Respect to You Baby,” “Putting Up A Resistance” and “How Can We Ease The Pain,” with British reggae singer Maxi Priest.
In 1992, Hammond released the single “Fire” which received critical acclaim within the reggae music industry. Now garnering interest from major studios such as Elektra Records, Hammond recorded five more albums in the 1990s along with several compilations establishing himself as one of the top lovers rock artists.
Noting that his frequent collaborator, Buju Banton, with whom he recorded songs such as “Falling in Love All Over Again,” “Pull It Up,” and “Queen and a Lady,” was now out of prison after serving a seven-year sentence for drugs and weapons charges, Hammond used the occasion to plug next spring’s Love & Harmony Cruise.
The two will revive their duet-driven performances on the cruise, which will also feature Beenie Man, Cocoa Tea, Wayne Wonder and Nadine Sutherland. It marks the first time Hammond and Banton will tour together on the cruise, making stops in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and Nassau, Bahamas, on the six-day musical excursion.
For more information on the cruise, go to loveandharmonycruise.com.